December 12, 2012

Why People Burn Themselves to Death

Kent Sepkowitz, The Daily Beast

AP Photo

Self-immolation has been around for centuries, having been intermittently practiced by protesting monks in the East. The medical literature only recently has begun to examine the medical and psychiatric underpinnings of the practice. In a review of self-immolation written by psychiatrists in Seattle, the world’s experience was considered; the authors found that two very different groups gravitated toward the action. In higher-income countries, self-immolation was rare and most often carried out by males, many of whom had a psychiatric history. In contrast, in low-income areas, especially in Asia, the action is more common and more often carried out by women either in political protest or to escape marital strife.

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TAGGED: China, Tibet, Self-Immolation


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